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Transforming the HUB

Lighting the way for future generations, Moravian University’s student union is getting a facelift, two more floors, and a complete transformation into the center of student life.

By Claire Kowalchik P’22

Six years ago, construction of the Sally Breidegam Miksiewicz Center for Health Sciences was nearing completion. President Bryon L. Grigsby ’90, ’P22, P’26 and Wendell D. Brown, principal at Earl Swensson Associates (ESa), the architectural firm that designed “The Sally,” as we affectionately call it, began talking about future projects when Brown blurted out, “Your student union stinks.”

“I took offense at that comment,” says Grigsby.

Several days later, while he was on John Makuvek Field helping the soccer team, Grigsby turned around to look at the Haupert Union Building (HUB). “I thought to myself, Oh, my, Wendell is right. I saw the tall buildings surrounding it…the HUB looked like a ranch on steroids.”

Walking through the interior of the HUB, Grigsby reflected more deeply on what really matters. “Moravian University is so student-centered, yet our student center falls far short of serving our students’ needs.”

So began earnest work on developing a vision for a student center expansion.

HUB History

Discussions surrounding the student union go back to the 1920s, when the idea for a student center was first proposed and agreed upon. But before construction could begin, the Depression hit. The population of college students declined, funding was scarce, and the plans were shelved. Come the 1930s, to answer a growing need for a student gathering place, the basement of Comenius Hall was converted into a social lounge and candy store. Students, faculty, and staff were welcome to hang out and invited to have coffee and a hamburger. The lounge was called the Emsee for MC. South Campus had an equivalent social space—the Femsee.

Over the next 20 years, as the student population grew, so did the demand for a building on campus dedicated to student cocurricular activity. In the 1950s, students organized their efforts to make it happen, asking their peers to donate $75 a semester for the cause. They presented a check for $400,000 to President Raymond Haupert, and in 1958, the board of trustees approved the building of a student union.

The plan included a cafeteria, snack bar, large dining hall, meeting rooms, and a music-listening room on the first floor. A covered portico extending the length of the building would offer a lookout onto the football field (now John Makuvek Field), and the lower level included a supply store, student mailboxes, storage space, and student rooms featuring table tennis, billiards, and television sets.

Construction began in September 1960 and was due to be completed by September 1961 but was delayed to accommodate the addition of a 300-seat auditorium funded by a gift from local philanthropists Harrison and Myrtie Prosser. Finally on May 6, 1962, the college union building (CUB) was formally dedicated and opened, making it the first student union on a college campus in Pennsylvania.

On May 8, 1969, the CUB was officially renamed the Haupert Union Building (HUB) in honor of Haupert, who had served as president of Moravian College and Theological Seminary since 1944 and announced his retirement.

Over the years, updates to the interior of the HUB have been made including, most recently, renovating the dining spaces, moving the bookstore into the Moravian Book Shop on Main Street, and redesigning the former bookstore space to accommodate student life offices.

A HUB For the 21st Century

In January 2020, Grigsby and Nicole Loyd, executive vice president, chief operating officer, and dean of students, began discussing a vision of a student union that would be at the center of student life. “The HUB for most students is the place where they come to get a bite to eat,” says Grigsby. “We need more space where students can work on projects and meet with faculty or staff, and we need all student services in one place.”

“The student union should be the core of community engagement and community life—the center of all cocurricular activity,” says Loyd.

Grigsby and Loyd took that overarching objective to their HUB expansion team: Yasmin Bugaighis, director of facilities, management, planning, and construction; Amber Donato, director of planning and project management; Mark Reed, chief financial officer; Jill Anderson, vice president of development and alumni engagement; Phillip Powers, senior design manager at ESa; and Brown. They met regularly to shape a vision for the HUB around that goal incorporating suggestions from student life, wellness, dining, and career and civic engagement staff.

ESa recommended using the existing footprint of the HUB and building up rather than out. The dining spaces will be preserved, but everything from the information desk to the north entrance will be demolished to make way for rebuilding. The group decided to add two more floors and then began delving deeply into the design and character of each.

The First Floor

The first floor of the new HUB is committed to the whole individual. Students who are healthy and cared for—physically, mentally, and emotionally—will learn better, live better, and thrive. The first floor will be renovated to bring together the university’s health services: the health and counseling centers. Locating both on the same floor with a shared reception space increases confidentiality for students seeking physical or mental health assistance, and a private exit allows students to leave unseen.

The Second Floor

The second floor of the HUB will be a central location for students, faculty, staff, alumni, families, and visitors. It will be loud, energetic, and fun, but more than that, it should tell visitors what Moravian University cares about, says Loyd. “We asked ourselves, ‘How do we want this floor to represent our values?’”

Asked and answered.

An alumni engagement room, gifted by the Moravian University Alumni Association (see “Alumni Association Coming to the HUB”), brings our graduates into the heart of the campus community, facilitating connections and relationships with students, faculty, and staff.

An expanded suite for the Center for Career and Civic Engagement and named for benefactor Laurie Riley Brubaker (see “Honoring Laurie Riley Brubaker ’82”) shows the university’s commitment to helping students acquire internships and volunteer opportunities, discover career paths, and connect with and apply for postgraduation jobs.

And a space has been allocated for the Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Putting these spaces on the second floor and right in front of students will engender engagement, as Loyd has observed firsthand. “In 2013, the career center was moved into the HUB. As students came in every day to eat, they would run into the staff. It changed their experience engaging with those professionals whose goals are to help them figure out who they are, what they want to be, and what they want to do after they get their degree at Moravian.”

While students are still at Moravian, they will have plenty of dedicated space for projects and meetings on the first floor of the HUB. A student organization suite includes permanent offices for the Moravian Activities Council (MAC) and United Student Government (USG) as well as space for any club to use for meetings or to work on projects.

As for dining, the Star and the B&G Cafe, which have recently been renovated, will continue to wear their current look and layout while serving up meals, snacks, and drinks. Students and visitors may enjoy their meals in a space similar to the pavilion but smaller and designed with student-preferred comfortable booths.

The Third Floor

The third floor quiets down and offers a space to students who need a break from the hubbub. A wellness center might offer yoga and meditation along with a room designed with thought to color and sound for neurodiverse students. A multifaith suite will include men’s and women’s rooms for ablution, where students can cleanse prior to prayer. “We’re still exploring what will go in the wellness center,” says Donato, “but it is not a hangout or study area. It’s for students in need of some mental peace.”

Student-life offices, including accessibility services, will be located together on the second floor, which will encourage synergy among staff. Here’s where students will come for help or advice on any cocurricular issue. Mo’s Cupboard and several meeting rooms are also planned for this floor.

One area that might get a bit rowdy at times is the covered terrace that will look out over John Makuvek Field and will welcome students, family, and visitors to watch the Greyhounds compete, rain or shine.

The Fourth Floor

Walk up one more flight, and you arrive at the quietest floor. The centerpiece is the event center—a space that can accommodate 300 people for elegant dinners, such as the Societies Dinner and Shining Lights celebration. Crowd-drawing speakers will give their talks in this room rather than on the basketball court in Johnston Hall, and the space can be set up for movies or theater or divided into three rooms for smaller events.

The fourth floor is also the location of the board room, which when not in use by the trustees will be available to any other group. “This and all other meeting rooms will have state-of-the-art technology,” says Donato.

Refining the Plan

The design for the new HUB brings all university services and cocurricular support together in one spot. With the character and content of each floor decided, planning has progressed to a more detailed design. “We are working on all the small spaces,” says Loyd, “and we’re being as inclusive as possible with regard to who sits around the table—students will be involved because their voices matter.”

With everyone’s input, ESa will continue to develop the plans and the room layouts, says Donato, and a construction manager will be hired to review everything and share input. Construction will begin in February 2024.

“It’s so exciting,” says Loyd. “It tells the story of what drew me to Moravian—community. Y ou feel it in your heart. We’re showing it in this building.”